Nestled in the Banke district in Nepal is a small hostel that transcends its functionality as a residential facility for vulnerable hearing-impaired children, and instead has become a true home, family and place of belonging for a beautiful community of vibrant kids. As the global deaf community celebrates International Week of the Deaf this week, we...Read now
Here at BTO, we provide holistic support to vulnerable and abandoned children, so every child can have a future full of love and opportunity.
There is a long history of exploitation and neglect amongst unregulated orphanages in developing countries, especially those run by organisations who receive and misuse funding intended for the care of children.
In 2006 Geoff Hucker was on a visit to Ethiopia when he became aware of the heartbreaking situation facing orphaned children. As an international pilot that had travelled the world, and a father to a teenage son, Geoff struggled to comprehend the extreme hardships facing these children. Over the next year, Geoff returned to Ethiopia many times, slowly building his understanding of the complex issues facing the country’s orphans, as well as best-practice models recommended by leading international child welfare experts.
When BTO was founded in 2007, Geoff and his team began to challenge this traditional model of care by locating relatives of orphaned children or identifying a committed and loving guardian for long term foster care in our unique Kinship Model.
The BTO Evolution
Over the past 13 years, we have continued to support abandoned and orphaned children guided by the firm belief that every child deserves a loving family. However, we have also recognised that prevention is better than the cure, and have slowly expanded our work to provide preventative intervention programs to help families at-risk of separation or suffering from extreme poverty. Now we work closely with four local community organisations in Nepal and Kenya to support some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Holistic Family Support
We believe every child deserves the support of a loving family, and we now work collaboratively with local organisations to provide vulnerable children and their families with the holistic support they need to thrive and become self-sufficient adults. This support includes things like providing food, shelter, counselling and educational support. By relieving financial pressure and providing emotional and community support we are able to help keep families together and provide for essential needs and education to help their children flourish and break the cycle of poverty.
Unique Family Homes
Over the years we have been faced with the reality that it is not always possible to find appropriate long term foster care for every child, particularly those who have complex special physical and psychological needs. With the help of our in-country partners Sano Paila, we fund unique residential homes for a small number of abandoned and orphaned children. These family homes are designed to provide long term care, consistency, and strong family support in a safe and loving environment.
Each of these homes has a dedicated house mother or mothers who provide the consistency and 1:1 support that children need to feel safe, loved and nurtured. Many of these children have been rescued from child trafficking and have suffered severe mental and physical trauma. We support the long term recovery and growth of these children through specialist medical and psychological care.
Specialist HIV Care
In Nepal, there is a deep fear and rejection of individuals effected with HIV and aids. The social isolation and stigma often mean children and families impacted by HIV can’t access the community and service support they need to manage their conditions and keep their families safe. We work with a local organisation to provide essential medical care, medicine and health supplements to ensure they have adequate health support. We also support local education and group counselling programs to begin breaking down the stigma and shame these communities are burden by.
Child Protection Expertise
At the very core of BTO is a mission to keep children safe. We are privileged to have world-leading child protection experts on our board and within our wider advisory circle. In 2020 we formalised a Child Protection Committee to provide immediate 24/7 support to our partners as they navigated the incredibly challenging impacts of the global pandemic. While the formal committee is new, it is a manifestation of our best-practice Child Protection Policy that forms the strict protection framework for all of our programs and partnerships.
We are committed to empowering the communities we work with by partnering with local organisations to deliver culturally appropriate and co-designed programs. Our partnership model not only ensures the children receive the right care and services, it also creates local jobs and important community support networks.
We are incredibly proud of the amazing work our partners do, especially over the past 9 months as they have adapted to the increased pressure of dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19 which has disproportionately affected developing nations and already vulnerable children.
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